Earl Williams, who won the 1971 National League Rookie of the Year while with the Atlanta Braves, has died at the age of 64 at his Somerset, N.J., home, braves.com reports. He had been diagnosed with acute leukemia just last summer.
Williams made 10 games worth of a debut in 1970, playing first and third base. He would continue playing those positions, but the Braves' main need was at catcher. The then 22-year-old Williams caught 72 games in 1971 without any previous experience en route to 33 home runs with 87 RBIs and a Rookie of the Year award.
He would then follow that with 116 games caught in 1972 and another 28 home runs. That allowed Atlanta to use him as trade bait in a six-player deal with the Baltimore Orioles that brought Davey Johnson and Pat Dobson to the Braves.
Baltimore's Memorial Stadium wasn't as kind to the power-hitting right-hander, and he only hit .245 with 36 home runs in his two years there before being traded back to the Braves in 1975. He would also play for the Montreal Expos and Oakland A's, putting up a .247 career batting average with 138 homers in 889 games.
When he passed, Williams was with his wife of 33 years, Linda, and a stepdaughter, Raquel West. He is also survived by granddaughter Ruquayyah Williams.Tags: Atlanta, Atlanta Braves, Earl Williams, MLB